I’ve been aware of Netgear’s Nighthawk wifi routers for several years. The line has a reputation for both attempting to put as many possible features into a consumer router and with having a distinctive design language. The newest model is the X10 and it costs over £400. What could justify that sort of cost? The X10 has a whole range of features and extras built in but when it comes down to it you’d buy it for two things – it’s look and the speed.
My sense of design may be unusual but I love the look of the X10. Most routers try and disguise what they are and fade into the background. Not the X10. It’s a router for those who want the best and it shows itself off with four huge antenna and a footprint that’s bigger than most laptops. To add to that it’s got a number of bright white LED’s along the front and when the lights go down a whole range of less bright LEDs on the ariels become visible.
So what about speed? Wired seems simple – 6 gigabit ethernet LAN ports are available which which should fulfill most requirements but Netgear have also setup two of those six to be able to aggregate. That effectively gives you one double speed link which go to a high speed Network Storage for example.
Wireless looks like a series of confusing specs : 802.11ac/Ad Quad-Stream MU-MIMO. Unpacking that 802.11ac is the fastest and most up to date wifi standard that’s widespread giving higher speeds of up to GB per second at very short ranges. There are only a few devices that can take full advantage of it in short – last year’s flagship phones like the Galaxy S7 and HTC and above but even on older devices it’s faster than you’d think possible. There antenna system also allows for four simultaneous high speed streams and I was able to stream 1080p to two TVs, two tablets and three phones at once over wifi without any noticeable slow down or reduction in quality.
All of these speed boosting technologies will rarely do you much good if you don’t have the corresponding tech but there is another advantage to all of those aerials and power – better coverage. Getting decent testing on the range of a wifi hub in a home is tricky as it varies so much depending on things like what your walls are made of and the layout. In my house the Virgin Media Superhub I usually use only covers two thirds of the floor space of the house and a small amount of the driveway and back garden. Switch to the X10 and the whole house was covered as is the driveway, garden and the road in front of the house.
The Ergohacks Verdict
The Nighthawk X10 is aimed at a very specific part of the market. If you want the Nighthawk you’re fairly tech savvy and want the fastest possible wifi experience – either for gaming or streaming multiple 4k video streams. You want something that looks the part and has as many bonus extras built in as possible. If you want it all and aren’t too concerned about price, the Nighthawk is for you. It gives amazing performance and with the built in Plex server has useful unique extras whilst looking impressive as well. It is the ultimate single hub solution. The X10 is the top of the line.
Price: ± £410
Included: Ethernet cable, power adaptor, quick start guide
Netgear is a very well known American network technology manufacturer. You probably know them best for their home hubs and wifi routers, but they’re a major supplier to industry as well and make a range of network connected devices like NAS (Network Hard Disks), firewalls and security cameras. They were set up in 1996 and have just over a thousand employees spread around the world. We’ve recently positively reviewed their Arlo Q and Pro cameras and their Orbi router.
- Plex Media Server built in. This is a full version specific to the X10. It lets you use the two USB ports as Plex drives as well as add multiple network drives. Three months of Plex Pass are also included but it works without it.
- BitTorrent, Emule or FTP Downloader: A simple BitTorrent downloader which lets you start downloads from a Bittorrent file on your PC, a file on the USB Storage plugged into the X10 or directly via a link. It’s very simple but could be useful on occasion. It is however in Beta and crashed a number of times in use.
- USB Drives as network shares available to your pc’s on your network.
- Parental controls: This uses OpenDNS to filter by type of site content or via black or white lists. These can also be set to specific times of the day but not specific machines or devices on the network
- Backup via ReadySHARE vault: installs programs on your PC and lets you make sequential automatic backups to one of the USB drives attached to the X10.
- Amazon Cloud Drive: Available for one of the two USB drives plugged directly into the X10. This will let you clone the whole drive (or a specific folder) into Amazon Cloud Drive. I found this somewhat slow even compared to normal Amazon Cloud drive uploads buts once you have gotten a drive uploaded updates proceeded at a normal pace.
- Guest Network: Switchable on and off via Alexa
- UPnP: Universal Plug and Play turned on by default
- USB monitoring: This allows you to restrict the USB devices plugged into the X10 to only specifically whitelisted approved ones.
- OpenVPN server built in that lets you route access your home network from away. Note that this does not let you do the opposite and route all your internal traffic out via a VPN
- Port Forwarding and Port Triggering
- Numerous specific apps including, a setup app NETGEAR Up, Netgear Genie that gives basic controls, NETGEAR ReadyCloud that lets you access the attached USB storage, Kwilt that uploads your photos to the attached storage and Connect that gives you direct access to tech support.
Product dimensions: 36 x 28cm Footprint ( not including cables ). Maximum height 22cm
Colour: Black with white, blue and red switchable LEDs
Release date: October 2016
Materials: ABS Plastic
Maximum Wifi Speed: 7.3 Gbos
Wifi: 802.11ac + 802.11ad
Ethernet: Seven (7) 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit
USB: Two USB 3.0 Ports
Processor: 1.7GHz Quad Core
Memory: 512MB NAND flash and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
Warranty: Limited 1-year Hardware Warranty. and 24/7 basic technical support provided for 90 days from purchase date, when purchased from a Netgear authorized reseller.
We based our Ergohacks Verdict on 3 weeks of tinkering, testing and using the Nighthawk X10 kindly loaned by Netgear during May 2017. This article was first published on the 16 May 2017.